Local cattlemen representative reports failure of nonlethal wolf control methods

By BRIAN ADDISON

Wallowa County Chieftain

Wolves recently killed two pregnant cows on a ranch five miles east of Joseph, Ore.

One of the cows carried twin calves.

USDA Wildlife Services and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials investigated the kill Feb. 15, after receiving a call from rancher Karl Patton and Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen.

Officials from both agencies confirmed that wolves were responsible for the kills.

"The wolves took down the two cows and drug out the fetuses," said Rod Childers, wolf coordinator for the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. "It looks like there was a heck of a struggle."

A single cow is valued at about $850, but because both cows were carrying calves, the loss equals $1,350 per cow. Confirmation of the wolf kills makes Patton eligible for compensation from the Defenders of Wildlife wolf depredation fund.

Wolf predation on livestock occurred in the same area last spring.

During the past year agency officials have investigated 26 suspected wolf kills and confirmed that half of them were due to predation.

"It's pretty uncommon, but not unheard of, to have two adult cows killed by wolves in one incident," Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson said.

As the wolf coordinator for the OCA, Childers has worked with agency officials and political representatives to show that local ranchers have tried a variety of nonlethal means to deal with problem wolves.

"We've documented all nonlethal strategies we've used and that it hasn't worked," Childers said. The OCA is now requesting that federal agencies kill problem wolves.

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